UGC makes accreditation a must

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By BASANT KUMAR MOHANTY
  • Published 5.03.13
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New Delhi, March 4: Accreditation has been made mandatory within six months for higher education institutions in the general stream to qualify for grants from the Centre.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) today notified the new regulation that changes the nature of accreditation, which till now was voluntary. The mandatory rule will cover every general-stream institute that has either completed six years or has provided education to two batches of students, whichever is earlier.

According to the Mandatory Assessment and Accreditation of Higher Educational Institutions Regulations, 2012, any institution of higher learning, other than those in technical and medical streams, will have to compulsorily take accreditation from an accrediting agency within six months from now if they fulfil certain conditions.

The notification said no university or college would be eligible for grants from the central government unless accredited. If any unaccredited institution is getting grants, the UGC will issue notices and stop the allocation.

The country now has over 500 universities and about 30,000 general colleges. Till March 31, 2011, only 161 of 504 universities and 4,371 of 28,000 colleges were accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC).

The UGC issued the new regulation under instructions from the Union human resource development ministry, headed by M.M. Pallam Raju.

The ministry had already introduced in Parliament the National Accreditation Regulatory Authority for Higher Educational Institutions Bill which provides for mandatory accreditation for all institutions. However, the bill is hanging fire in Parliament.

The ministry has, of late, decided to implement its reforms agenda through the executive route, sources said.

Raju has also asked the technical education regulator, the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), to formulate separate regulations for mandatory accreditation for technical institutions.

The ministry is of the view that mandatory accreditation will ensure quality. The higher education system in India is expanding with huge disparities among the institutions and vast differences in infrastructure facilities exist between public and private institutions.

Against this backdrop, it is appropriate to have a mechanism that will set benchmarks to judge the credentials of an institution, officials said. This will raise the overall quality of higher education, they added.

Accreditation is an international practice for quality assurance. In the US, a federal panel of 18 members — the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity — is the advisory body to the secretary of education on setting standards of accreditation, recognition of specific accrediting agencies and the certification process of higher educational institutions.

In India, the concept of mandatory accreditation stems from recommendations of two higher education panels. The National Knowledge Commission, headed by Sam Pitroda, had in 2007-08 recommended the establishment of an independent regulatory authority for higher education with multiple accreditation agencies to assess quality and provide department-wise rating in addition to institutional ratings.

In 2009, another committee under Yashpal suggested that a national commission for higher education and research be set up. The proposed commission was supposed to create norms and procedures for accreditation of universities and institutions of higher learning.